by Justin Reynolds
There was some apprehension as a Chinese ‘Heavenly Palace’ fell to Earth last week. The 8.5 tonne Tiangong-1 space station, adrift since China’s space agency lost connection with it two years ago, made an ‘uncontrolled’ re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere early on Easter Monday.
Fortunately there was never much cause for concern, the European Space Agency calculating the chances of being hit by debris as ’10 million times smaller than the yearly chance of being hit by lightning’. Most of the station burned up on contact with Earth’s atmosphere and the remaining fragments plunged into the South Pacific. But the episode had a eerie resonance, symbolising something of the West’s prevailing perception of China as an enigmatic, technologically advanced state, glowing with – rather like its wayward satellite – a nebulous sense of danger.Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
With all the madness that has been taking place across the pond on a near daily basis since the 2016 inauguration of the comb-over-in-chief, it is all too easy to overlook many of the less sensational affairs carried out by the United States. While we are familiar with the war on terror, defined by US military occupation of significant areas of the Middle East for almost all of the 21st Century, there are areas of the world in which the US remain equally as active in this same regard, despite much less public awareness.
In October of last year, the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara attacked a small group of Nigerien and US soldiers in the Tonga Tonga region of Niger, killing three Americans and five Nigeriens. Although the incident was indeed broadcast by the mainstream media, the event represents a far greater issue developed on the continent: the increasing military presence of the US in Africa.Continue Reading
by Zoe Harding
(Part 4 of a serialised prose fiction endeavour. Read part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here.)
This thing that’s now installed on the brains of nearly three billion people, across pretty much all but the top levels of every single first-world government (and even then, one wonders if MPs have always been this weird and robotic – oddly, history would seem to confirm yes). What does it do?Continue Reading
by Oliver Steward
The latest North Korean missile launch over Japan on the 28th August 2017 is a sign that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is willing to act unilaterally, despite what any other country may think or want the regime to behave according to international accords. This is obviously disturbing and only goes to show that the North Korean regime is totally defiant towards the international community, and sticking its middle finger up at the United States and the wider world.Continue Reading
by Toby Gill
Madness. Or, more precisely, M.A.D.ness. This is the doctrine which has governed foreign policy among major powers for the last half a century: ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ – the idea that the possession of nuclear arms is, in of itself, the ultimate deterrent against aggression from other nuclear armed powers.
It is the reason why the UK is willing to continually bankrupt itself keeping its Trident system running. It is the reason why, in the Cold War, the US and Soviets tolerated one another pouring funding into nuclear missiles, but mutually agreed to ban investment in systems to defend against nuclear missiles, as they were too dangerous. It is the reason why many International Relations experts believe that additional nuclear weapons could actually make the world a safer place. M.A.D. is the key to understanding the ecosystem of superpowers, in the Cold War and beyond.
There is, of course, only one problem – we have no idea whether it really works.
By Olivia Hanks
There were inspiring stories from Green parties all around the world at the Global Greens congress in Liverpool, but arguably one of the most uplifting came from Isabella Lövin. The Swedish Green Party spokesperson has been minister for international development cooperation since her party entered government in coalition with the Social Democrats in October 2014.
Lövin recounted how, despite being by far the junior partner in the coalition (25 seats in parliament to the Social Democrats’ 113), the Greens have brought about numerous changes in policy: “We have put forward a climate law obliging all future governments to achieve net zero emissions by 2045,” she told delegates. “We also have a broad cross-party agreement to have 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040. And, mind you – without nuclear power!”
by Zoe Harding
2016 continues to provide a torrent of horrible, depressing news. On the first of December, the opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow beat the incumbent president, Yahya Jammeh, by 43-39%, ending Jammeh’s 22 year control of the country. On the eve of the election peaceful celebrations went on throughout the Gambia, while Mr Jammeh conceded in a phone call to Mr Barrow with as much grace as one might expect from a democratic leader to his successor. Unfortunately, he didn’t stay graceful for long.
by Oliver Steward
The United States is experiencing relative decline vis-a-vis in relation to other so-called ‘Great Powers’, notably China. The election of President-elect Donald Trump may navigate this transition or accelerate this relative decline in the second decade of the 21st century.
US GDP has only grown nominally at 1.5%. Some important elements can be taken to show the growing disparity and changes to the world’s two most important economic powers. As discussed in The Globalist, ‘US GDP stood at $16.8 trillion in 2013 —just about 4% larger than China’s economy…. [While]The IMF estimates that China’s GDP at purchasing power parity was $17.6 trillion at the end of 2014.’ Furthermore the US is spending $1 trillion on domestic and national security under the auspices of counter terrorism. It has spent blood and treasure in two costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Continue Reading
by Oliver Steward
Today in international relations we are witnessing a return to a new Cold War between Russia and the West. However, this Cold War Mark II is avoidable, and has only been institutionalised by the actions of both the West and Russia to antagonise one another, and rejuvenate the old Cold War which ceased since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now in the second decade of the 21st Century it is here once again. This new Cold War is characterised by increased tensions between the West and Russia, with rhetoric particularly from the latter becoming increasingly aggressive, and the use of economic measures such as sanctions against Russia by Western powers.
The recent Russian bombardment of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo has done nothing to ameliorate the current diplomatic tensions, only deepened it. However two important qualifications need to be made about this new Cold War that makes it different to the Cold War of the 20th Century.Continue Reading
by Zoe Harding
In my last piece, while blithering about the US Presidential Race, I mentioned that one of the reasons for my interest in the politics of another country was the continued presence of their nuclear-capable aircraft in the skies over my head. This week I think I should clarify that, and take a look at what the world’s largest and most ludicrously overfunded military is up to in our neck of the woods.Continue Reading
by Zoe Harding
Can anything stop Donald Trump? The recent presidential debate between the Man with the Golden Skin and Madame Nixon has been heralded as another in a series of candidate-ending screw-ups, Trump appearing rambling and incoherent while Clinton seemed uncharacteristically cheerful and unscripted. Trump was called out repeatedly for lying, and his awkwardly unreleased tax returns were dragged ever closer to the cold light of day. Even his post-debate spin was desperate, with Trump claiming imaginary poll victories and showing a surprising measure of the political correctness his supporters are rabidly opposed to. He even blamed his microphone for his weak performance, giving Clinton a chance to drop one more zingy soundbite.
But here’s the thing: this isn’t going to slow Trump down. This won’t turn his supporters off him. To drop into a metaphor I’ve seen employed elsewhere, Trump is Godzilla. Continue Reading
by Zoe Harding
Is anyone else starting to feel a little bit sorry for David Cameron? At this point it’s starting to look like the only redeeming feature of his 2016 so far has been that the accusation of pig fellatio is no longer the worst thing that’s happened to him in office. On the 12th of September he quit as a Conservative MP, claiming that he ‘didn’t want to be a distraction’ for Theresa May, and on the 14th we found out why.
A report released by a Foreign Affairs Select Committee found that ‘Through his decision-making in the national security council, former Prime Minister David Cameron was ultimately responsible for the failure to develop a coherent Libya Strategy.’ It alleges that Cameron’s decision to commit military force to intervene in the Libyan revolution was poorly planned and done without considering the consequences, and ultimately led to a power vacuum that was eventually filled by Daesh. Very distracting.Continue Reading
by Gunnar Eigener
“Since the news, little kids haven’t played outside, as if their moms are afraid someone might snatch them out of their yards and send them off to war.”
Kimberly Willis Holt, ‘When Zachary Beaver Came To Town’
In the early hours of 26th July, Satoshi Uematsu drove to a home for the disabled where he had previously worked and stabbed 19 residents to death and injured 26. Shortly before handing himself in, he tweeted “May there be peace in the world…Beautiful Japan!!!!” Once in custody, he said that ‘it is better that disabled people disappear’. Barely a week later and at a rally Donald Trump claimed to have seen video footage of $400 million being transferred to Iran by the US government as well as recounting the time he saw Muslims celebrating the devastation of 9/11. One of these stories received little attention while the other gathered headlines.
by Gunnar Eigener
The Cold War peaked with the Cuban Missile Crisis and ended with the falling of the Berlin Wall. It left scars across the globe, many of which are still felt today. It tore societies apart. It created a feeling of angst and paranoia in those who lived through it. The lack of trust the West and East held for each other hasn’t really gone nor have the players changed that much. For younger generations, it used to be hard to imagine what a time like that must have been like but as this century progresses, but it’s becoming easier.
by Gunnar Eigener
When soldiers go to war, they face a grave peril. On the battlefield they face a danger that most of us back at home have no comprehension of. If we follow the logic of the Government regarding their policy of airstrikes in Syria, it is likely that boots on the ground may very well become part of the military intervention to defeat Daesh. Once again, young men and women will be asked to put their lives on the line for their country and for democracy. Irrespective of your view on a particular military venture, such men and women deserve our respect, but should our government really be sending our armed forces into war yet again, if they aren’t able to uphold their promises to look after them and guarantee their welfare when they come home?Continue Reading
by Jules Ignacio
In the dark, the reconnaissance units
spread out on the mountaintop—the stage—
gawking at the riots, with their sniper eyes.
by Faizal Nor Izham
Despite almost 14 years of Western nations waging a ‘war on terror’, not much has been achieved in the way of making the world a truly secure place for all. With Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden now considered yesterday’s news, the Iraq war that was waged after 9/11 — widely considered by critics to be “pointless” — merely gave birth to another terrorist threat in the form of ISIS. Today, some sections of the Western media continue to be awash with Islamophobic articles on an almost daily basis, further fueling the public’s misconception of Islam and its supposed roots in terrorism. This in turn has affected Britain’s immigration and multicultural policies to an extent, and has only served to further heighten levels of prejudice against Muslims.
It begs the question: has the Western response to 9/11 really been that worthwhile?Continue Reading
by Lesley Grahame
Remembrance is a solemn and moving national event. Even more so this year as we look back on 100 years of wars since the beginning of the war to end all wars. I wear my red poppy with sorrow and my white poppy with hope.
Whatever we feel or know about the horrors of war, Remembrance Day itself day is about a generation who wanted to make a difference, and put their own bodies in mortal and horrific danger to do so. They trusted their leaders, if not to keep them safe, at least to keep them doing the right thing, and perhaps to take care of their families, and themselves if they survived. Community solidarity through shared grief is almost palpable at some Remembrance Events, as we are reminded that no family escapes if war comes to their county.
Few would deny the trauma or tragedy of war, or the need to help survivors, yet these can get lost in the pomp and ceremony, or worse, the glorification of war.Continue Reading
by Mattie Carter.
The constant stream of images and information from the Gaza strip can be almost overwhelming at times. Perhaps more than any other time in this long, seemingly unending conflict, there appears to be somewhat of a consensus among politically informed people, particularly the young, that Israel’s use of force has been disproportionate. However, despite this, the rhetoric on both sides is reaching a fever pitch and, whichever side you have more sympathy with, the solution seems further and further away from fruition. Despite a ceasefire brokered by Egypt (at the time of writing), there seems to be little real trust in the public that talks between the two sides will be anything more than a public relations gesture nor that the violence won’t soon begin again.Continue Reading